The photo wires were on fire yesterday with photographs from Russia, which had been supplied to them by a 'third party'. In other words, the photographs of two fit and trendy men (wearing near-identical clothes and dark glasses) — President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin — were government handouts, also known as propaganda material. However, at least for once, we will not crib about propaganda but about the aesthetic value of the photographs. But first the story behind the photographs: the two leaders, who are believed to be close to a decision on which of them will run for president, spent a day — not debating the future challenges in chintan baithaks and plenary sessions — but fishing and boating on the Volga river. Then they set off for a boat trip to take underwater pictures. Mr Medvedev even caught a fish(!), though the photograph looked like a set-up. This is not the first time that, at least, Mr Putin has shown his adventurous streak: who can forget a bare-chested Putin (Rambo style) riding a horse a couple of month ago? American presidents are also adept at showing their sporty side with photo-ops of them playing golf or cycling.
But when it comes to India, our netas are stiff as a poker. There are some honourable exceptions like Farooq Abdullah but then it's more to do lifestyle than sports. In short, we have no leader who is sporty (ah, we forgot our tennis ace, SM Krishna) who can do a Putin here. Sometimes, we do see our well-fed, under-exercised MPs don their cricket whites for a lazy game in the winter sun. The only major exercise they get is once in five years, when they have to do daily marathons to woo the voters.
But New India would definitely like some of our shy politicians tell us all about their hobbies. Who knows, maybe the once-loved and now much-maligned leader is a closet martial arts expert. Or maybe a rotund party chief is an ace diver. Even for us, with such fertile imagination, these sound incredible. Alas, there is no other option but to shift our gaze back to Mr Putin.